KARACHI: As the hype surrounding the death of at least 12 deer at the Karachi zoo continues, samples from the animals have been sent to the Central Veterinary Diagnostic Labratory in Tando Jam to identitfy the mysterious ailment that killed them.
Initial tests showed that animals had traces of E. coli, said Karachi Metropolitan Corporation’s (KMC) chief officer Matanat Ali Khan after meeting the veterinary doctors on Monday. “But E. coli shouldn’t have been fatal. This is something else and we need to examine the matter.”
Samples from the dead animals have now been sent to Tando Jam and the results will come by Wednesday, he added.
A dozen deer, most of them white fallow deer, succumbed to an infection which has yet to be completely diagnosed. All the animals showed the same symptoms - paralysis and external wounds.
KMC has already formed a panel of four veterinary experts to look into the matter and samples were earlier sent to a private laboratory in Karachi but results were inconclusive.
“I have now asked the Sindh government to assist us in the investigation. Two of their experts will be made part of the panel to ensure that investigation remains impartial,” said Matanat Ali Khan.
Meanwhile at the zoo, the white deer enclosure, which was once the centre of visitors’ attention, looks deserted. There are three deer in it and all of them seem to be too weak to move.
The staff at the zoo are tight-lipped and the media hype surrounding the issue has scared even those who were otherwise quick to defend the performance of its director, Bashir Sadozai. On his part, Sadozai said that the administration cannot be held accountable for the deaths. “We will take whatever measures the panel of experts ask us to take. The issue has been hyped up. There has been only one death in the past week. We have controlled the situation.”
But one man who has worked closely with the zoo said the deaths were bound to happen. “Ask the administration to share the vaccination records. They do not regularly vaccinate the animals. And now the winter season will be blamed for the viral infection,” he told The Express Tribune on the condition of anonymity.
Dr Rahmatullah Rind, the chairperson of Sindh Agriculture University’s veterinary microbiology department, said that in the absence of comprehensive lab tests, only assumptions could be made about the reason behind the deaths of the animals.
“The reported symptoms such as external wounds indicate that the deer have been attacked by ectoparasites. This illness has a tendency to jump from one species to another. They weaken an animal, which ultimately dies.”
Published in The Express Tribune, January 22nd, 2013.
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